The typical soukous chord progression is a variation on a basic I-IV-V progression, where the roman numerals refer to the chords built on the corresponding degree of the diatonic major scale.

It is much simpler than it sounds. For instance, if we are playing a song in C, where C is the tonal center of the song, it means that the harmony of the song is built in the key of C, hence the main scale we can use is C diatonic major and the typical chord progression will be a variation of I-IV-V chords which in this case are C major, F major and G7. In the key of G the I-IV-V chords are G - C - D. Typical soukous/sebene progressions are I-IV-V-IV or I-V-IV-V or I-IV-I-IV etc.

If you have to learn how to play this kind of chord progressions a good starting point could be Justin Sandercoe's lessons.


For a long time I have been reading comments about how good his lessons are, especially for beginners, and certainly he has a ton of good video lessons on youtube. I checked and I have to say that I like them, although I am not the best one to evaluate how good they are because he targets especially beginners and he uses an approach that is very different from what my guitar teachers used with me when I started. For instance I am easily bored by long speeches in youtube guitar videos and Justin talks quite a bit, but I believe that's appropriate for his target audience and I have to admit that his approach seems to be very clear and effective.

I want to say clearly that I don't have any kind of relationship with justinguitar, I am not paid to advertise the website and I don't have any kind of agreement with them. The only reason I am mentioning it is because in the overwhelming offer of guitar lessons this looks like a viable, good quality, free option, and if you like it you can show your appreciation by donating some money to his website (for instance think about how much the lessons would cost you, then divide by two or by five or ten and donate that amount).

Of all the guitar lessons available on justinguitar there are three immediately related to soukous guitar chord progressions and very useful as a foundation of rhythm and solo guitar in a typical soukous piece.
 I am referring to the triad chord shapes lessons. If you don't know how to play and move the chords of a typical I-IV-V progression around the fretboard then you should definitely study those videos.

I believe he makes an example of I-IV-I-V progression in the key of G, hence G - C - G - D, the same key of many songs, including for instance N'Dombolo Ya Solo. If you want to quickly see how that is relevant to soukous guitar playing just check out the last lesson first, this one. Of course if you decide to take those lessons you should start from the first one, and read the explanations on the website page linked above.

This is it, just an advice for the beginners about what seems to be a good resource for learning. If you have any comment or notice something wrong with those lessons please use the contact form to send me a note.